A student at the University of Florida has released a video - which has since gone viral - in which she claims the students’ union is biased and singling out other students who are not a part of the US college ‘system’ of Greek sororities and fraternities.
Sabrina Philipp, 21, a final-year political science major, begins by saying she is “really afraid” to see what will happen as a result of her speaking out in the video, adding she will regret it if she doesn’t speak her mind and does her part.
Positions of power within student politics, she describes, are being given only to students who are a part of this ‘Greek system’. She also adds that without its “culture of fear, the system would not survive.”
The video featured on a Facebook page entitled ‘Not My System’ which appeared on Monday, claiming to run by “an alliance of students” that have come together against the “current system of oppression” within the University of Florida students’ union, also known as the Student Government (SG).
Watch the video:
#NotMySystem: The Truth About Student Government at UF
Student Government at the University of Florida is run behind closed doors and we want to open them. The System is real. Hear it from someone who was at the top of it. #NotMySystemPosted by Not My System on Sunday, 14 February 2016
The team behind the movement explained how the system at the University of Florida is allegedly composed of three blocs: political bloc, social bloc, and third bloc, adding: “Each is led by a bloc leader that represents the interests of various Greek organisations, communicated to them through their house leaders.
“Through massive Greek mobilisation and voter suppression, the system has been able to control Student Government at the University of Florida for decades. This system is damaging to everyone involved, except for its elite. Students are not given the opportunity to pursue positions based on their merit, but rather must rest on their laurels.”
Philipp goes on to claim minority students on campus are “lumped together into what’s called ‘the communities’.” She adds: “Preference for organisation titles and positions is given to Greek students. Anyone with a conscience knows that it is morally wrong to divide people on the basis of race or Greek affiliation.”
After the student party she was affiliated with, the Swamp Party, lost in the student elections, Philipp said she was given complete control over the new direction the party would take the following day. The party was then rebranded into the Impact Party.
“No-one who is a part of the system can change it from the inside,” she adds, as she also claims she is no longer affiliated with the Impact Party - for which she says she laid the groundwork - because she began to create a coalition of houses to go against the system.
Describing it as being “the darkest time” she had ever had during her time at the university, Philipp says: “All of these accusations started coming at me and I realised I needed to get out. I was being bullied, I was being harassed, I no longer felt comfortable, and I was crying all the time.”
Speaking with the university’s student newspaper, The Independent Florida Alligator, however, the campaign manager for Impact claimed Philipp was not a founder of the party, adding how he was “pretty disappointed.” The paper goes on to report Philipp said her only aim was to “remain non-partisan and to inform students about SG.”
In an email to the Independent, though, Philipp described how she believes the system-sponsored party rebrands itself every few years to “distance themselves from scandal.” She continued: “When the Swamp Party transformed into the Impact Party after a crushing defeat to a minority party for the first time in ten years, I was given the responsibility to rebrand the party and ensure its success.
“Members resort to personal character attacks to diminish my credibility because they don’t want to confirm the existence of the aystem.”
The Independent has tried to contact the SG for comment regarding the video and has yet to receive a response. Philipp said the Not My System team has also not yet received a response from administrators within SG, or the Student Activities and Involvement (SAI) office, adding: “We have heard back from the university president’s office and expect to meet with him early next week.”
Previous reports on the running of SG - which documents show it to have an annual budget of almost $21m (£14.6m) - have highlighted how former Florida governor and university alumnus, Bob Graham, told The Alligator last year: “I never encountered, in state and federal politics, activities as aggressive as at the University of Florida.”
According to local media, two other non Greek house University of Florida alumni have previously alleged that the system in place favours Greek-house members and has made it difficult for independent students to run respectively.
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